The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business – Episode 1 Review

The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business premiered on Sunday night, and while the episode had contestants swimming with the sharks, the teams themselves were anything but shark-like.

I mean, seriously guys? Stop giving out answers like they’re candy on Halloween! You’re all-stars, for goodness sakes! Solve this stuff yourself! So many teams ended up “helping” each other that the poor cowboys were left in the dust, completely unable to solve the puzzle required to get to the pit stop.

But let’s start at the beginning. Eleven teams are taking part in this season of The Amazing Race, and they all have “unfinished business”. There isn’t a winning team among them, and most of them had a particular downfall that led to their elimination, like losing their passports, getting lost, stopping to pee, or not being able to solve a puzzle.

The excitement started off right away, with Phil telling the teams that they’d have to retrieve a flag for Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services from a field of many flags with various airline names on them. What many teams didn’t know was that they were looking for a flag that said “Qantas”. The first eight teams to retrieve the correct flag were on the first flight to Australia, and the last three on a flight landing ninety minutes later. And the team to come in dead last would have to perform a U-turn on the very first leg. That team came down to either Gary and Mallory or Amanda and Kris, but Mallory prayed to St. Anthony (the patron saint of lost causes!) and they just squeaked by. I didn’t mind Amanda and Kris having to do the U-turn – I barely remember them.

Serious as a heart attack

The teams that made the eight spots on the first flight did not end up being so lucky – in a scary turn of events, a gentleman on the flight had a heart attack and the plane made an emergency landing in Honolulu. It was an unlucky situation, but as Big Easy said, what was most important was the safety of the passenger in need.

That meant the later flight, which carried sisters Kisha & Jen, father/daughter duo Gary & Mallory and engaged couple Amanda & Kris, actually landed in Australia first. Mallory knew they were now in the lead, but Jen didn’t believe her. How can you not believe a little pixie blond chick who says “You’ve been to Kentucky, you know we don’t lie there”? The teams headed for their first Roadblock as the other plane landed.

Getting Tanked and Tanking

The Roadblock required one team member to get into a giant tank and swim with sharks and a stingray, which is apparently the size of a queen-sized bed. Yikes! Everyone was scared, but shouldn’t they have been more scared? What, exactly, was preventing the sharks from trying to eat them?

Mallory, Kisha and Amanda all went into the tank, where they had to find a special compass that would help them decode a message. It was a good thing Jen wasn’t doing the task, since she has serious issues with water. The poor girl didn’t even like being surrounded by the tank.

The message decoding seemed easy enough – the contestants would look at flags and then use the images to get the message. Mallory got the answer first – “I’m between the devil and the deep blue sea” – and they were first to head off towards the next task. Kisha and Amanda then decided to work together, and they were soon off as well.

The cowboys missed the ferry that the other teams from their plane caught, so they fell behind pretty quickly. They also weren’t thrilled about having to get in the water, as one of them noted “I’m from Oklahoma, I don’t do water. I don’t even take baths.” Riiiight. Personal hygiene issues aside, aren’t there swimming pools in Oklahoma?

Come Sail Away

Once teams had decoded the message, they had to sail a boat in Manly Bay to grab a clue off a dinghy. It sounds easy, but they were hanging off the sides of the boat. It was intense! Gary and Mallory sailed (no pun intended…) through the task and got to the pit stop in first place, where they received some good and bad news from Phil. The good news? They were in first, which means they’ve won the coveted Express Pass. I really like Gary and Mallory, so I’m glad they’ve got that advantage in their pocket. The bad news? No rest for them! They were still racing, Phil said. Amanda and Kris landed at the pit stop in second place, but as the teams are still racing they’ll still have to handle that U-turn before the first elimination. Kisha and Jen came in third.

And this is where things got weird. Zev and Justin solved the puzzle, and as they were making their way to the next task they ran into Flight Time and Big Easy. Flight Time thought he had solved most of the clue, but he didn’t have the whole thing. They asked Justin & Zev for the answer, and the guys decided to give it to them! I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised since they were wearing Harlem Globetrotters T-shirts, raced on the same season and like each other, but…seriously? That’s weak. I love Flight Time and Big Easy and I’m glad they didn’t fall behind, but that was weak.

Next thing you knew, everyone was trying to mooch answers. Margie and Luke had been working with Jamie and Cara but came up with the wrong answer (I am the devil and the deep blue sea), so they tried getting the clue from Justin & Zev as well. Justin refused, though, saying they’d already helped one team and wouldn’t help any others – especially when “we don’t know them, really, from a hole in the wall.” I wasn’t so sure about Justin and Zev participating in this – they’re one of two teams that didn’t place very well the first time, and losing your passports is kind of flaky. But based on this leg, I think they could be in it for the long run.

Meanwhile, the two parent/child teams with more elderly parents (because let’s face it, Gary has always kind of been Superman) had finished the task and correctly solved the puzzle. So what do they go and do? Oh, they just let Margie, Luke, Jamie and Cara overhear their answers. Because it’s not like they’re in a competition or anything.

That left only two teams – Kynt and Vyxsin, who struggled with the scuba diving, and the cowboys. But just to make things even more ridiculous and unfair, Margie gave the answer to Kynt and Vyxsin. Because, again, it’s not like there’s a competition going on or anything. Margie defended her choice by saying that it’s good to help beatable teams, but she shouldn’t let the pink hair and the glitter makeup fool her – they came in fifth in their season.

Justin and Zev came in fourth, followed by Flight Time & Big Easy, Jamie & Cara (Jamie proved that the Playboy mansion she now calls home hasn’t softened her by screaming at one of the dudes on the boat to get off her foot), Margie & Luke, Ron & Christina, Mel & Mike and Kynt & Vyxsin.

Cowboys, oh boy….

And what of the poor cowboys? Those affable guys who say “gracias” to people in Australia? Well, they haven’t been eliminated since all the teams are still racing. But Jet clearly has no idea how to solve that puzzle and wasn’t even getting close to it, so there’s no telling how they’ll get out of that pickle. Life is, like, so much harder when there’s no one around to cheat off of, you know?

During the cowboys’ original season I thought they got lucky more than a couple times, so I’m not shocked to see them at the bottom of the pack. But I was pretty disgusted with how readily the teams were sharing their answers, and it put a damper on the episode. I’m still thrilled to have The Amazing Race back, and to see all my favorite teams, but I sure do hope they start playing harder.

What did you think of the episode? Are you worried the cowboys will be the first time out, or do you think Amanda and Kris’s U-turn could even the playing field? How did you feel about the teams sharing answers? Sound off in the comments!


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